July 18, 2013

Photos: Joshua Castaño.  

The last two photos are of the tomb of Nathan Barnert (1838-1927), an immigrant from Poznan, Poland who became one of Paterson’s leading businessmen and citizens during the 19th C.. He served as Mayor twice in the 1880’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Barnert).

Barnert was one of the earliest Jewish mayors in the US. A bronze statue in City Hall plaza which still stands was dedicated during his lifetime. Barnert was a major philanthropist and benefactor for a number of causes, including the now closed Barnert Hospital.  Unfortunately, Barnert’s impressive resting place is located in nearby Totowa. 

July 17, 2013

Photo: Joshua Castaño.

Partial collapse of the Venable Mill in the Great Falls National Historic Landmark District, Paterson, NJ. July 16, 2013.

July 17, 2013
Another Paterson mill gone — Why?

It was reported yesterday that portions of the Venable Mill (though not identified as such in the press) had experienced partial collapse. Local residents were evacuated and the Paterson Fired Dept. and other agencies moved in to handle the situation and remain throughout the demolition that began Tuesday evening. By midday today, a large portion of the mill has already been removed. 

What wasn’t reported by the media is that the mill is what is technically termed “a contributing resource” to the Great Falls National Historic Landmark District. Before the Great Falls National Park was established, the GF National Historic Landmark District (NHL) was listed by the Department of the Interior and forms the basis for the smaller boundaries of the new National Park which is surrounded by the NHL. A National Historic Landmark’s purpose is usually a higher level of national recognition, attention and hopefully protection. 

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While in the neighborhood I heard a variety of comments from residents and citizens who walked by many were standard and unsurprising after my (unfortunate) experiences in these kind of situations. People had no idea what this place meant or what story it told which might have aligned with us professional preservationists. Instead they narrated its unwelcome grim shadow of decay, drugs, homelessness and danger. For many they added the experience of sensation that this was just another structure, neglected and uncared for and once again was threatening the safety of the community and in the case of the residents who were evacuated, was temporarily making homeless those who already lack resources and support. 

Why did the Venable Mill have to be demolished? Where does the thread of neglect begin? Mayor Jeff Jones was good to quote the previous development deal that went sour before his administration — if the deal with the developer had turned out then the mill would already be gone.

July 12, 2013
Paterson is a city wherein poverty, neglect and forgetfulness have hidden and preserved so many, so very many old buildings that remain sagging, grinning or frowning among the vinyl and asphalt of the contemporary ciudad. This little mid-19th C. home is in my own neighborhood. I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t go down. Photo: Joshua Castaño

Paterson is a city wherein poverty, neglect and forgetfulness have hidden and preserved so many, so very many old buildings that remain sagging, grinning or frowning among the vinyl and asphalt of the contemporary ciudad. This little mid-19th C. home is in my own neighborhood. I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t go down. Photo: Joshua Castaño

July 11, 2013
a much “sorrowful providence.” There really is something beautiful about the Victorian style of mourning and melancholy. This is a plaque in the old First Presbyterian Church (now Iglesia Presbyteriana Hispana) in Paterson, NJ. A really historic place with a dynamic Latino congregation that is vibrantly keeping the church alice in the heart of downtown. I love when history continues with new people and old places. 

a much “sorrowful providence.” There really is something beautiful about the Victorian style of mourning and melancholy. This is a plaque in the old First Presbyterian Church (now Iglesia Presbyteriana Hispana) in Paterson, NJ. A really historic place with a dynamic Latino congregation that is vibrantly keeping the church alice in the heart of downtown. I love when history continues with new people and old places. 

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